Accessibility is more important than ever. Within the framework of our own research and development process, we have recognised what is often still neglected in marketing and communication today.
Cyber Marketing 2077 – an unusual comparison with Cyberpunk
For once, we are taking a look into the future of marketing. We are going to the year 2077! Because as consultants and specialists for marketing solutions, we like to look at what tomorrow could bring.
Let’s talk about the new game blockbuster Cyberpunk 2077. Hardly any other game has been so eagerly awaited by the community in recent years as the futuristic action adventure set in Night City – a megalopolis whose inhabitants are obsessed with power, glamour, technologies and body modifications. We slip into the year 2077 and venture together on a virtual journey 56 years into the future.
And what can this have to do with marketing? The future – even if only imaginary – gives us an interesting insight into what might be expected. This creates the vision of a future, which in turn drives new technologies. The film and game industries often dealt with future scenarios; and they did indeed have a premonition or two with their ideas. Be it the smart watch in Dick Tracy (1990), virtual reality in the Lawnmower Man (1992) or personalised advertising and gesture control in Minority Report (2002). And let’s face it, we’re all just waiting for the hoverboard from Back to the Future Part II (1989).
After a few hours of playing Cyberpunk 2077, we want to take a look at the virtual future of the year 2077 and play freely with our thoughts: How realistic or useful is the development for marketing? For this purpose, we have chosen three technologies from Night City and looked at them more closely.
Cyber-Implantate, der erste Schritt zum Cyborg
The game focuses on implants that can be “attached” to the body. These implants are seamlessly connected to the body and communicate via a central operating system that is connected to the human neural network (cortex). Although this seamless symbiosis of operating system and the human brain is currently very limited (With the chip in the brain, Forbes) – it exists. In the game world, this technology seems to be far advanced, as it is readily available to all inhabitants. It is similar with many other modifications such as the exoskeleton or various arm and leg protests. They all already exist – just a bit simpler, with fewer “features” and not as “connected”.
Such implants and associated operating systems are likely to offer entirely new opportunities when it comes to marketing products or services. Especially the so-called ocular systems (visual implants). Such an “upgrade” enables a razor-sharp view into the distance, more enriched details or data on the environment or even information on current events and people in the game. This is strongly reminiscent of Google Glass. All right, Glass was a gimmick and far from mature, nor can we control the glasses with our thoughts, nor can we yet transfer data to our “human hardware” (approaches exist with the Neuralink). Such implants and associated operating systems are likely to offer entirely new opportunities when it comes to marketing products or services. Especially the so-called ocular systems (visual implants). Such an “upgrade” enables a razor-sharp view into the distance, more enriched details or data on the environment or even information on current events and people in the game. This is strongly reminiscent of Google Glass. All right, Glass was a gimmick and far from mature, nor can we control the glasses with our thoughts, nor can we yet transfer data to our “human hardware” (approaches exist with the Neuralink). But let’s imagine that in 10 years we could receive information wirelessly on a kind of lens and process it by means of voice control – doesn’t sound so “science fiction”! With such a device, it would then also be possible to visualise extended information about products or services by means of augmented reality or even to interact with the viewer. Of course, this would raise a lot of questions about security: What may be displayed to the wearer and what information may be further processed (e.g. eye-tracking)? And above all, the game shows a very comprehensible danger: The cyberware could be hacked at any time.
It would probably be the next big step towards the transparent human being. And we already don’t know what happens with our data. The supermarkets already know a lot about us as soon as we pull out our loyalty card. And so in the future we would probably get the special offers “slapped” directly on our eyes sooner or later when we do our weekly shopping (for “hyper-reality” an entertaining video by Keiichi Matsuda). So one could argue that this technology is on its way to realisation. But it is precisely the uncertainties regarding data security and data protection that are likely to make it massively more difficult to gain a foothold in the next few decades until the wheels of justice grind.
Not new, just better: Digital posters
We already know digital billboard advertising from APG/SGA and we are encountering it more and more often in reality. Mostly large displays are used for this, which are reminiscent of our TV at home. In Night City, it is noticeable that digital advertising can be seen everywhere. Probably a bit too much for our personal well-being. Yet the formats are oversized. The skyscrapers are adorned with huge digital ads that can be rotated and animated. Some exist physically, others via virtual reality – and some interact with us.
This development is also progressing in reality: London has one of the largest examples in Picadilly Circus. The display has a complex system that even analyses and reacts to external conditions such as weather, passers-by and vehicles. But something seems to work a lot better in 2077: Holograms.
In Night City, the holograms appear mainly at the side of the road or in shopping centres and captivate with an invisible installation (probably located in the ground). This way, the holograms could also be easily switched off/removed and disappear from the cityscape when needed.
Hologram technology is almost old hat among visions of the future. Yet it still falls short of expectations (an insight into current hologram technologies). We suspect that hologram technology will have similar marketing problems as e-ink displays; the return on investment is simply not there for widespread use. And so it will probably remain with digital posters. Probably the most impressive technical illusion created by humans; the Fourth Screen in Seoul.
Braindance, the game with thoughts
Also an important element in the game is the technology called braindance. The braindance is a neural technology that is used to record one’s own memories or emotions or to recall those of other people and experience them oneself.
This technology is used in the game to obtain information or for entertainment. Both have positive and negative aspects. The viewer needs a somewhat extensive installation with virtual glasses. Admittedly, this sounds a bit crazy, but there are also initial developments in this direction: Elon Musk has reached a milestone with the Neuralink, making the symbiosis between human and artificial intelligence possible for the first time. And so we can probably continue to give free rein to the imagination here as well.
For marketing, this technology could be exciting as a new means of communication to store and visualise a large amount of information. And if one day entertainment were to actually take this step, classic B2C advertising would probably not be averse to it either. Whether our emotions will then also be evaluated while we see the latest personalised detergent advertisement remains an open question.
In summary: Total networking
If we look at these technological achievements of the year 2077 in summary, everything points to the total networking of people and devices. And this creates new virtual realities that we consume and interact with. What on the one hand offers unbelievable opportunities can also be frightening. Fear of the total loss of control over one’s own data, fear of total transparency and surveillance. Whether realistic or utopian, it is likely to be a tightrope walk between progress, morality and ethics.
The best thing is to visit Night City yourself and get an idea of these technologies. Find out what 2077 could feel like. We visited Night City with the brand new Google Stadia service in Switzerland. But we should remember that whatever the journey into the future brings, it is not important what technologies we develop, but rather what we do with them!
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Screenshots: YOUNITY / Wirz, Images: CD Project Red